Yeh, David Kingston. “A Boy at the Edge of the World”, Guernica Editions, 2018.
Meet Daniel Gurneau
The Garneau boys are triplets from small-town Ontario. One of the three, Daniel, moves to Toronto with his best friend Karen to go to college. We are with Daniel as he explores sea, love and intimacy over a five-year period. Daniel is the narrator of the story and we see things the way he does (or doesn’t). I understand that the character of Daniel is based on the author’s own experiences in Toronto and keeping in mind that Daniel is just 18, his life seems to lack any organization. Daniel seems to have no purpose yet in life but then who does at that young age?
The focus of the book is on how Daniel, an openly gay young mat who struggles to define himself as a gay man in his relationships –regardless of whether there or romantic relationships or not. He deals with serious questions such as the meaning of love and how to express it and how does a relationship work?
This is look at a young man’s ups and downs with relationships, dating and family. There is not really a main plot. Instead we follow various themes keeping in mind that we are following a life. This is a character driven novel and even though there are times that Daniel does not come across as a likeable guy, we continue on with him. Could it be that he is a sort of “everyman” or better-put “everyqueer”? Do we not, even if we do not want to admit so, see something of ourselves in him?
We are with Daniel as he explores the LGBT community in Toronto and we see that he has the support of friends and family yet we also see that he is self-conscious about his feelings about sex.
I must admit that I cheated a bit and read some other reviews of this book and this is something that I rarely do. I was surprised to see that others thought the book to be chaotic and meandering. As I said earlier, at 18 our lives are chaotic and meandering; we are not sure what we are looking for (even if we find it). Keep in mind that chaotic and episodic are not the same and Daniel’s life is rendered to us in episodes. I believe the book was written as it is so that other young people can see themselves in it. Hence the chaos and the episodes. When we are young, things don’t always come together in a linear fashion and we certainly do not think that way. Looking at “A Boy At the Edge of the World” in this manner, we see a brave book that tells us about a time without reinforcement (but that is another story).
I believe that David Kingston Yeh tells it to us as it is and we do not always want to admit that. The language is quite strong but it is the language of the young. We do see growth and change in our characters and I see the beginnings of maturity and self-acceptance. After all, isn’t that what we really want from life?